By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins made their second signing of the free agency period Saturday, signing winger Craig Smith to a three-year deal worth $9.3 million ($3.1 million cap hit).
The 31-year-old Smith, who has spent his entire career with the Nashville Predators, tallied 18 goals and 31 points in 69 games last season. His 18 goals were the second-most on the Preds, and his 31 assists were the ninth-most among all Nashville skaters.
Smith scored a career-high 25 goals in 2017-18, and his 52 points in 2013-14 remain a career-high.
Smith’s status as a right-shot, right-wing projects him as a likely fit with either David Krejci or Charlie Coyle on Boston’s second or third line, and the Bruins are getting a definite shooter, with Smith’s 972 shots over the last five seasons standing as the 13th-most among all NHL right wings. (Bruins president Cam Neely has stressed the team’s need and willingness to shoot more.)
But it’s at five-on-five where the Bruins will likely feel Smith’s impact the most. Among a group of 668 skaters with at least 200 minutes of five-on-five action last year, Smith’s 11.74 shots on goal per 60 minutes ranked as the fifth-most in all of hockey, trailing only Nathan MacKinnon, Brady Tkachuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Max Pacioretty. Smith’s individual expected goals per 60 minutes also ranked as the fifth-best in hockey (0.98), and his goals per 60 minutes (1.12) was the 40th-best.
Smith has been a positive when it comes to differentials, too, as the Predators outscored their opponents 46-22 with him on the ice at five-on-five in 2019-20 (67.65 goals-for percentage). That was the second-best goals-for percentage among NHL regulars.
A five-time 20-goal scorer, the 6-foot-1 Smith has totaled 162 goals and 330 points in 661 career games.
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff discuss the latest with the Bruins in free agency and the trade market in the latest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast: